Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller listens to chiefs as they line up to speak during a session at the AFN Special Chiefs Assembly in Ottawa, Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Health researcher hopes COVID-19 means new policies for Indigenous peoples

The federal government has reported at least 190 confirmed cases of COVID-19 on reserves

A health researcher studying COVID-19 as part of a national immunity task force hopes the pandemic elevates concern for persistent health issues, such as inadequate housing, for Indigenous people in Canada.

“This pandemic has opened the eyes for a lot of people across Canada,” said Dr. Carrie Bourassa, scientific director of the Institute of Indigenous Peoples’ Health.

“I would like to think that what these … studies will do is change a lot of policies for Canadians and for Indigenous people.

“I hope that this will also raise the bar and help people to understand that equity has not been reached for Indigenous peoples in Canada.”

Bourassa was recently tapped to come up with a plan to engage First Nations, Metis and Inuit people in studies about how the virus has spread and who is immune. The Anishinaabe-Metis professor at the University of Saskatchewan said an Indigenous advisory circle will soon be announced for the two-year project.

It’s critical Indigenous people are included in such studies, she said, because they could be more susceptible to the virus, given factors such as overcrowded housing and poor access to healthy food and clean water.

“Those are now huge mitigating risk factors,” she said. “It gets exasperated in times of a pandemic.”

The federal government has reported at least 190 confirmed cases of COVID-19 on reserves in Britsh Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario and Quebec.

Communities in Saskatchewan’s far north, including La Loche, a Dene village 600 kilometres northwest of Saskatoon, have been dealing with an outbreak after the virus travelled there with someone who had been at an oilsands work camp in northern Alberta.

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller has said that coming out of the pandemic there will be a need to come up with a clear plan to address realities such as overcrowding, historic under-funding of health services and a high rates of diabetes.

Bourassa said access to health care is a major issue, including future access to a potential vaccine.

“It’s often the case that marginalized populations don’t get access to treatment.”

READ MORE: Mixed messages: Ottawa, Moe differ on Indigenous ceremonies during pandemic

— By Stephanie Taylor in Regina

The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

CoronavirusIndigenous

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

VIDEO: Robert Bateman celebrates 90th birthday

Trudeau, Margaret Atwood and more appear in ‘happy birthday’ video

Saanich farm stands can stay open

Council amending bylaw to allow for temporary use permits

Study looks at feasibility of Vancouver Island abattoir

South Island Prosperity Partnership funds study looking at local meat processing

Royal B.C. Museum reopens in phases, some galleries remain closed to start summer

Victoria museum and archives open first galleries June 19

Greater Victoria’s first BC Cannabis Store could open at Saanich shopping centre

Store application for Uptown Shopping Centre headed for public hearing

B.C. records no new COVID-19 deaths for the first time in weeks

Good news comes despite 11 new test-positive cases in B.C. in the past 24 hours

Tahsis opens its gates to visitors to save local economy

Seasonal local businesses that rely on tourism hope to survive despite drop in tourist numbers

BC Corrections to expand list of eligible offenders for early release during pandemic

Non-violent offenders are being considered for early release through risk assessment process

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

Fraser Valley driver featured on ‘Highway Thru Hell’ TV show dies

Monkhouse died Sunday night of a heartattack, Jamie Davis towing confirmed

Island city cancels plan for homeless camp; exploring alternative option

The plan heard strong objection from neighbouring residents and businesses

B.C. visitor centres get help with COVID-19 prevention measures

Destination B.C. gearing up for local, in-province tourism

36 soldiers test positive for COVID-19 after working in Ontario, Quebec care homes

Nearly 1,700 military members are working in long-term care homes overwhelmed by COVID-19

Most Read